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TRAF6 regulates tumour metastasis through EMT and CSC phenotypes in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

TRAF6 regulates tumour metastasis through EMT and CSC phenotypes in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.
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Chen L, Li YC, Wu L, Yu GT, Zhang WF, Huang CF, Sun ZJ,


Chen L, Li YC, Wu L, Yu GT, Zhang WF, Huang CF, Sun ZJ, (click to view)

Chen L, Li YC, Wu L, Yu GT, Zhang WF, Huang CF, Sun ZJ,

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Journal of cellular and molecular medicine 2017 11 29() doi 10.1111/jcmm.13439
Abstract

Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is associated with metastasis formation, generation and maintenance of cancer stem cells (CSCs). However, the regulatory mechanisms of CSCs have not been clarified. This study aims to investigate the role of TNF receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6) on EMT and CSC regulation in squamous cell carcinoma of head and neck (SCCHN). We found TRAF6 was overexpressed in human SCCHN tissues, and high TRAF6 expression was associated with lymphatic metastasis and resulted in poor prognosis in patients with SCCHN. In addition, elevated TRAF6 expression was observed in several HNSCC cell lines, and wound healing and transwell assay results showed that TRAF6 knockdown inhibited the migration and invasion ability of the SCCHN cells. Moreover, the expression of Vimentin, Slug and N-cadherin was down-regulated and that of E-cadherin was elevated after TRAF6 knockdown but decreased by transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1) and CAL27 similar to mesenchymal cells formed after TGF-β1 induction. In addition, the expression levels of CD44, ALDH1, KLF4 and SOX2 were inhibited after TRAF6 knockdown, and the anchor-dependent colony formation number and sphere number were remarkably reduced. Flow cytometry showed TRAF6 knockdown reduced ALDH1-positive cancer stem cells. We also demonstrated that TRAF6 is closely associated with EMT process and cancer stem cells using a Tgfbr1/Pten 2cKO mice SCCHN model and human SCCHN tissue microarray. Our findings indicate that TRAF6 plays a role in EMT phenotypes, the generation and maintenance of CSCs in SCCHN, suggesting that TRAF6 is a potential therapeutic target for SCCHN.

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